DIY: Installing a Dual Flush Converter

It’s no myth that there’s a direct correlation between water conservation and saving money and energy. In fact, following several years of widespread water shortage in more than 35 states across the U.S., the need for greater water conservation is more critical than ever. There are dozens of ways to reduce at home water usage, but one of the easiest and most cost effective methods is to install a simple dual flush conversion system onto your toilet. We took on this simple DIY-no-tools-necessary-project one recent Saturday and had it completed from start to finish in about 30 minutes.

What exactly is a Dual Flush Conversion System?

A dual flush toilet helps you determine the exact amount of water your toilet uses each time it flushes either liquids or solids. The typical toilet stores 1.6 gallons of water in its tank, and since it generally takes much less water to flush liquids, the dual flush can be set so that only half of that water (0.8 gallons) is actually used. In fact, using a dual flush can help your toilet use an average of 30% less water each year!

Where can I buy one, and how much does it cost?

We bought ours, a Fluidmaster DuoFlush at a local Lowes store, for about $28. There are several other brands on the market, all available at various locations. We recommend calling ahead to be sure they’re in stock at your local hardware store. Dual flush converter kits are also available online.

How to install the dual flush converter:

  • Before we began the installation, we disconnected the toilet’s water supply line, and marked the water level by drawing a small line on the tank wall (this will serve as a guide at the end when it comes time to refill the tank with new water). We then drained the water in the tank by flushing the toilet twice (there may be an additional inch or so of water remaining at the base of the tank, but this can easily be removed using a sponge).We were surprised to discover a plastic bottle filled with water and pebbles sitting in the tank, a clear indicator that the previous homeowners had also been inclined to conserve water. Although slightly less sophisticated, this water conservation  method (many people have also been known to use bricks) can help displace the water in the tank enough to save anywhere from 5-10 gallons of water a day! We were pretty happy to find that even though we didn’t know it, we’ve already been saving water-and money!

  • Next, we removed the flapper, chain, flush handle, and finally, the fill valve (shown above, located in the upper left section of the tank). Although the instructions say no tools are required for this install, we did end up having to use wide jaw pliers to loosen the lock nut attached to the flush handle. However, this will surely vary depending on individual toilets.

  • Depending on your toilet’s type of flush valve seat, the process may require a few extra steps at this point. We have a flat seat flush valve, so we were able to proceed right to installing the dual flush valve onto the overfill pipe.
  • We then aligned and installed the DuoFlush valve snap on mount directly over the overflow pipe, making sure that the flush cable was positioned so that it faced the tank lever hole (shown below in the tank’s front left corner).

  • Next we installed the dual action handle and the PerforMax fill valve. The height of the fill valve needs to be 3 inches above the overflow tube. (We made sure that extra height would still allow the tank lid to rest properly over the top of the tank before we permanently installed the fill valve).

  • We then reconnected the water supply, and refilled the tank with new water. (Remember, to compare the water level with the line you drew on the tank wall in the beginning of the process). To adjust the water level, simply turn the adjustment screw on the fill valve clockwise to increase the water, and counter-clockwise to decrease.
  • Next we adjusted the water level for both half flush and full flush, by simply turning the dials on the fill valve. And we were done!

 Written by, Kate Agliata

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